Paedophile's pictures of young victim to be deleted by Dorset Police

Picture posed by model

Chief Constable Debbie Simpson

Dorset's police commissioner Martyn Underhill

How the Echo covered the story on April 11

First published in News
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PHOTOGRAPHS of a paedophile's young victim will be deleted from his laptop and mobile phone by police before the devices are returned to him, the Echo can reveal.

Dorset Police chiefs have taken legal advice and now say they will erase the images at the request of the schoolgirl victim and her mother.

They believe returning the family snapshots, which include images of the victim and her sister, would be a breach of the human rights of both girls.

The victim’s mum told the Echo today: “We are incredibly relieved. The consequences for us as a family were unthinkable had he been given access to the pictures.”

Just two weeks ago, the force’s legal officers said they had no choice under the current law but to return the devices and the images to the paedophile who was jailed for nine years in December for a number of offences against his own stepdaughter.

Officers said that as the devices were not used in evidence in the case and did not contain indecent images, destruction orders for the data could not be sought.

The family described the situation as “appalling” and said it would prolong the girl’s suffering.

But now in a letter to the civil rights group, Liberty, which took up the family's case, Dorset Police have said they intend to remove all pictures of the girl and her sister and retain them for six years.

Chief Constable, Debbie Simpson, will also write to the abuser in prison to tell him his devices will be given back – without the images.

She will say returning the pictures of the children would be incompatible with their right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The laptop, mobile and a memory stick will be given back to the 58-year-old abuser when he completes the custodial part of his sentence.

Both Dorset’s police commissioner, Martyn Underhill and Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood had taken up the case on behalf of the family.

Mr Underhill said: “This is great news for the family. Commonsense has prevailed. But the legal and political fight goes on to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other victims.”

The churchgoing abuser is not being named by the Echo to protect the identity of his victim.

  • The victim’s mother told the Daily Echo: "The retention of these photos would have had a lifelong impact and impeded my children’s already difficult road to recovery.

“I am extremely grateful to Liberty for taking on this cause and giving my daughters a voice.

“We are so relieved this part of our nightmare is over and that we don't have to go through long and arduous court proceedings.

“The Human Rights Act has given us vital protection in this case.”

Statement from Dorset Police

Detective Inspector Steve Symms, of Bournemouth CID, said: “From the start we have been exploring all of the options available to us to refuse the return of the images. As we said we would, we have sought legal advice regarding this issue.

“We have decided to delete the images of the victims from the laptop and other equipment before returning these items to the prison, to be held until the offender’s release. The legislation hasn’t changed, however, following legal advice, the Force is confident that taking this course of action is the right thing to do.

“We will always make victims’ needs paramount and are prepared to defend our decision if necessary, rather than further exacerbate their suffering.”

Dorset Police believes that to return images of the victims to the offender would be incompatible with the victims’ right to respect for their private lives under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill added: “I am pleased to hear that common sense has prevailed in this case.

“Both the Chief Constable and I share the view that victims must be put first.

“I will continue to lobby for change in this area and I encourage members of the public to sign the government e-petition that calls for the legislation to be re-considered.”

Comments (10)

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12:48pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Bournemouth87 says...

How much money was wasted in trying to get this resolved. The photos should have just been deleted straight away at no expense to the tax payers. The poor girl has had to go through so much whilst waiting for this to be dealt with. I hope if this happens to any other family the pictures are removed straight away and I hope knowone has to go through what she did.
How much money was wasted in trying to get this resolved. The photos should have just been deleted straight away at no expense to the tax payers. The poor girl has had to go through so much whilst waiting for this to be dealt with. I hope if this happens to any other family the pictures are removed straight away and I hope knowone has to go through what she did. Bournemouth87
  • Score: 16

2:07pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Bournemouthfan2 says...

Bournemouth87 wrote:
How much money was wasted in trying to get this resolved. The photos should have just been deleted straight away at no expense to the tax payers. The poor girl has had to go through so much whilst waiting for this to be dealt with. I hope if this happens to any other family the pictures are removed straight away and I hope knowone has to go through what she did.
If the police had immediately erased the pictures, can you imagine the further distress the family would go through if he then had the right to sue the police for deleting them? I am sure some lawyer would be waiting in the wings to help him sue for the 'distress and anguish' that had been caused to him and would be very ironic given what he has put this poor girl through.
So although the right result has been delayed, I think the correct action has been taken here. I am glad to read this and I hope the family does not suffer any more upset.
[quote][p][bold]Bournemouth87[/bold] wrote: How much money was wasted in trying to get this resolved. The photos should have just been deleted straight away at no expense to the tax payers. The poor girl has had to go through so much whilst waiting for this to be dealt with. I hope if this happens to any other family the pictures are removed straight away and I hope knowone has to go through what she did.[/p][/quote]If the police had immediately erased the pictures, can you imagine the further distress the family would go through if he then had the right to sue the police for deleting them? I am sure some lawyer would be waiting in the wings to help him sue for the 'distress and anguish' that had been caused to him and would be very ironic given what he has put this poor girl through. So although the right result has been delayed, I think the correct action has been taken here. I am glad to read this and I hope the family does not suffer any more upset. Bournemouthfan2
  • Score: 23

2:40pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Old Colonial says...

Maybe it would have been better to have just let the police get on with what they were plainly intending to do all along, without all the hysterical publicity. And why the emotive photo of the girl on a bench, Echo?
Maybe it would have been better to have just let the police get on with what they were plainly intending to do all along, without all the hysterical publicity. And why the emotive photo of the girl on a bench, Echo? Old Colonial
  • Score: -8

2:57pm Wed 23 Apr 14

poolebabe says...

I for one am glad this case got public attention. The law is an **** as they say, but publishing this story has unearthed a loop hole, that will be looked in to closing. A very good and swift result. As Bournemouthfan stated, there very well could have been a fat cat solicitor who was waiting in the wings to get this pervert compensation should those devices not be returned to him with the images. Far more tax payers money would have been wasted and put in the wrong hands. This is really good news.
I for one am glad this case got public attention. The law is an **** as they say, but publishing this story has unearthed a loop hole, that will be looked in to closing. A very good and swift result. As Bournemouthfan stated, there very well could have been a fat cat solicitor who was waiting in the wings to get this pervert compensation should those devices not be returned to him with the images. Far more tax payers money would have been wasted and put in the wrong hands. This is really good news. poolebabe
  • Score: 13

3:18pm Wed 23 Apr 14

M0Z says...

I hope the police know what they’re doing. Simply deleting the files won’t be sufficient – they’ll need to use proper security software to permanently overwrite the data, otherwise it can be easily recovered.
I hope the police know what they’re doing. Simply deleting the files won’t be sufficient – they’ll need to use proper security software to permanently overwrite the data, otherwise it can be easily recovered. M0Z
  • Score: 10

3:22pm Wed 23 Apr 14

breamoreboy says...

It says something for our society that this ranks fifth in the headline list behind AFC Bournemouth's play-off hopes. It's also been up for three hours 20 minutes but mine is the fifth comment. Compare this with over 100 for the article about cycling on the square. Ye Gods, what are we like?
It says something for our society that this ranks fifth in the headline list behind AFC Bournemouth's play-off hopes. It's also been up for three hours 20 minutes but mine is the fifth comment. Compare this with over 100 for the article about cycling on the square. Ye Gods, what are we like? breamoreboy
  • Score: 9

3:54pm Wed 23 Apr 14

blakieboy7 says...

Moz is absolutely correct. The files will need to be deleted and the free space will need to be wiped clean with software to prevent the files from being recovered.
Moz is absolutely correct. The files will need to be deleted and the free space will need to be wiped clean with software to prevent the files from being recovered. blakieboy7
  • Score: 11

4:13pm Wed 23 Apr 14

forest-dweller says...

All a bit spineless. I would have told the paedo that his devices were going to be crushed and tough titties to his rights. If the law made me give the devices back with pictures undeleted, I would have "lost" them.
All a bit spineless. I would have told the paedo that his devices were going to be crushed and tough titties to his rights. If the law made me give the devices back with pictures undeleted, I would have "lost" them. forest-dweller
  • Score: 12

9:21pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Hobad1 says...

Finally, in a land where the criminal has more rights than the victim, a sensible outcome which defends the victim. Though, how the hell this had to go through a legal procedure to get to the decision that any normal person would decide upon is beyond me. UK justice.......
Finally, in a land where the criminal has more rights than the victim, a sensible outcome which defends the victim. Though, how the hell this had to go through a legal procedure to get to the decision that any normal person would decide upon is beyond me. UK justice....... Hobad1
  • Score: 1

11:02pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Sir Beachy Head says...

Ive uploaded my fave pics to a hotmail account, and photobucket account just in case something bad should happen to my gadgets. I wonder if he has ?
Ive uploaded my fave pics to a hotmail account, and photobucket account just in case something bad should happen to my gadgets. I wonder if he has ? Sir Beachy Head
  • Score: 2

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